Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cuddle please

Do you remember your mother's body from when you were a small child?  
Did you take comfort in her arms? 
Did she seem to have some special power?  

When I think back to my youngest childhood memories I remember her body almost as if it was an extension of my own.  Because of course, my very existence came from her.  I remember every curve and the smoothness of her skin and even her hair like I owned it all.  As if were mine.
Early this morning my oldest had a bad dream and came to me.  Rowan never gets out of bed in the middle of the night.  He's grown tall, looks like a 'tall drink of water,' which is exactly what everyone used to say about me at his age.  I quickly welcomed him my arms and stilled his fears.  And he did exactly what I'm so used to his younger sister doing - he molded his body into mine.  He KNEW just how we fit together.  It was natural and comfortable, because after all his existence is because I ate, drank, breathed and pushed him out into this world.  Without me as a willing participant he wouldn't be here.  But I was still surprised because he's grown so much and doesn't do this cuddling thing all that often.  As he curled in I realized the top of his head is just under my chin and his feet come almost all the way to mine.  And yet he still has me memorized.  

This shouldn't surprise me the way it does because I can still look at my mom and she's totally familiar to me.  I have watched her body change over the years and now that I'm older I have heard her complain about her weight or smile, etc.  But I have never been able to look at her and analyze her body from a neutral perspective.  She's my mom, I don't remember being an infant and her nursing me or curling up in bed with her as a small child.  But I can't count the number of hugs and kisses I've received.  I know how ticklish she is and we can cook in any kitchen without running into one another.  The umbilical cord has been cut for 32 and a half years but there's an undeniable bodily connection present still.  

I have seen this with my own children.  Harvey seems to try to memorize me intentionally, brushing my hair, caressing my skin.  Eowyn will cuddle with me and place my hands where she wants them to be on her own body.  And Rowan will tell me to 'watch my air' because he's comfortable enough with me to tell me how to breathe.  

To be honest, I don't feel nearly the positivity toward my body that my children do.  I can list my flaws in 4 seconds flat.  I'll spare you the list.  But 9 months ago, I saw my daughter mimic my actions when she stepped on the scale in the morning just like I do and stepped off with the same facial expression I do - disappointment.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  And instantly I knew I needed to change my perspective.  

It's not about me anymore.  It's about what I'm teaching them, both my boys and my daughter.  If this body of mine has brought 3 living children into this world and given 3 more back to heaven then it deserves some of my respect and kindness.  It deserves the gentleness I treat my children's bodies with, and to be spoken to and about the same way I would speak to and about them.  Because how I treat myself is either how they will view themselves, or how they will treat others. 

There was a wedding in our family recently, my sister got married and it was a gorgeous sight.  For the months ahead of time the women in the family talked about what they weighed, losing weight for the wedding and how to minimize all of our unattractive parts in the dresses.  The men didn't talk about these things.  I'm sure they talked about other things, like how much money this is costing.  Or something??? 

But you know what happened at this wedding... everyone was gorgeous.  My mom was gorgeous, the bride, my sister, my children, and even I was happy with how I looked, mostly.  All of that worrying and negative energy didn't add to our joy on that day.  We loved and cherished each other not because we had lost 10 lbs or had our hair done the right way.  We had a fantastic time because we were there to celebrate together and we were family to one another.  We have each other memorized.  I knew just how many dances my dad would do before the wedding started.  How my brother would look in a tux with his longish blonde hair.  I knew the facial expressions Meredith and I would exchange before they even happened.  And I knew that my mom would be beaming about her baby girl getting married.  And that my children would look darling, regardless of how they behaved (which they did perfectly FYI).

We memorize our mother's arms much like we memorize the people from which we came or our life long love.  There's a comfort and familiarity that we can breathe in.  Whether it's the memories of repose in your mom's arms, or just how your sister looks when she's overjoyed; we know them.  I feel like my children are walking parts of my body.  My heart is walking around outside of my body, in three different directions.  It's vulnerable and scary... and awesome.  It's the most worthwhile risk I've ever taken, being a mother.  And when my seven year old, entirely too tall kid, crawls into bed looking for someone to chase away the nightmares.  

I remember, my heart may walk around outside of me, but it still knows where home is.  

Michael, Rowan, Meredith, Harvey, Nick, Brooke, Michele, Eowyn, Billy, Shannon

Happy Birthday Mom, I hope you know how much we love you.

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